Firefighter retirement


Q. My wife just resigned from the U.S. Forest Service. She is 44 with more than 20 years of service. Did she lose all of her retirement, or is she still eligible to receive a portion at the reduced rate of 5 percent?

She was always in a position covered under firefighter retirement, eligible at 50 to retire. Also, is she still eligible for health benefits?

A. If all 20 years were in a firefighter-covered position and she didn’t take a refund of her retirement contributions when she left, she could apply for a deferred annuity when she reaches her minimum retirement age.

If she was born in 1968, her MRA would be 56 and 8 months, if 1969, 56 years and 10 months. If she didn’t have 20 years of covered service, she has two options. She could apply for a deferred annuity at age 60, or she could apply at her MRA. If she did the latter, her annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year she was under age 60.

As for health benefits, she was automatically given 31 days of coverage under the FEHB program at no cost to herself. When that ends, she could continue that coverage at her own expense for up to 18 months under the temporary continuation of coverage provision of law.

Note: As a deferred retiree, she wouldn’t be eligible to re-enroll in FEHB.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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